It was 37 years ago tonight (September 19th, 1981) that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunited in front of a reported 500,000 fans for a free concert in New York's Central Park. Although the duo had performed together several times after their 1970 break up -- most notably at a fundraiser in 1972 for Democratic Presidential nominee George McGovern, a handful of times in 1973 during Simon's first solo tour, and on Saturday Night Live -- The Concert at Central Park was Simon & Garfunkel's first full-blown reunion concert. Back in 1975, Simon & Garfunkel scored a Top 10 duet with "My Little Town" in 1975, with the song appearing on both Simon's album, Still Crazy After All These Years and Garfunkel's Breakaway.

Prior to the Central Park show, Simon & Garfunkel butted heads about how the concert should be performed. Garfunkel preferred just the duo as they did in the '60s; two voices along with Simon's guitar. Simon insisted on a full band, including a horn section. Simon explained in Simon & Garfunkel - The Definitive Biography how he convinced Garfunkel to see his way: "I kept saying to him 'Artie, the band will jell and when it does, you'll want to sing. You'll like it.'" The majority of the backing band was familiar with the songs' arrangements, having backed Simon on his then-recent One Trick Pony tour.

The show was mainly comprised of Simon & Garfunkel's '60s classics, including "Homeward Bound," "America," "The Sound Of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson," "The Boxer," "Old Friends," "April Come She Will," "Scarborough Fair," "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," "America," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and others.

The duo also performed several of Simon's '70s hits, such as "Kodachrome," "Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard," "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover," "Still Crazy After All These Years," "Slip Slidin' Away," "American Tune," and Simon's latest hit, 1980's "Late In The Evening," which was featured twice in the show, being reprised as the concert's final encore. The pair made two nods to early influences, playing the Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Suzie," and performing Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" in a medley with Simon's "Kodachrome."

Aside from being arguably the first major rock event of the 1980's; culturally, the concert marked one of the music's most important forces coming full circle. Shortly before his 2012 death, legendary New York City DJ Pete Fornatale -- who authored the book Simon And Garfunkel's Bookends -- recalled that by the end of 1968 Simon & Garfunkel's fame had crossed generational boundaries in much the same way the Beatles' music had: "This was the point where the perfect storm had happened, and Simon & Garfunkel were taken from a very formidable level of success into the stratosphere. The soundtrack from The Graduate, (the) Bookends (album) -- all these new fans, older fans, moms and dads discovering them by going to the movies to see one of the great motion pictures of the '60s. That brought a whole new audience into the tent, and they were ready to consume anything by Simon & Garfunkel that was out there."

After the success of Central Park, Simon & Garfunkel spent the better part of 1982 and 1983 touring Europe and North America. Although plans for a reunion album fell through in 1983, the pair reunited live in 1993 and again for their Old Friends tour in 2003-2004, along with dates in 2009.

The long out-of-print Simon & Garfunkel: The Concert In Central Park was recently made available for the first time on DVD as part of a collectible CD/DVD set, as well as a 12-inch 180-gram audiophile vinyl LP.

AUDIO: PAUL SIMON ON PLAYING CENTRAL PARK
AUDIO: PAUL SIMON ON CENTRAL PARK FAN INCIDENT
AUDIO: ART GARFUNKEL ON PAUL SIMON'S 'AMERICAN TUNE'
AUDIO: PETE FORNATALE ON SIMON & GARFUNKEL'S LATE SIXTIES FAME